Neonatal nurse Lucy Letby has revealed she was not supposed to be working the night the first baby she is accused of murdering died.
The 33-year-old entered the witness box at Manchester Crown Court on Friday to give evidence for a second day.
She told the court she was “stunned” by the death of the child and described it as a “complete shock”.
Ms Letby is accused of the murder of five boys and two girls, and the attempted murder of another five boys and five girls, between June 2015 and June 2016.
It is alleged she used various means to murder the children, who cannot be named for legal reasons, including injections of air and insulin poisoning.
She has been described by prosecutors as a “constant malevolent presence” at the neonatal unit of the Countess of Chester Hospital.
On Friday, Ben Myers KC, her barrister, turned to the first individual allegation against her, that she murdered a prematurely born twin boy shortly after a night shift started on June 8.
Asked how she felt after the death of Child A, Ms Letby said: “Stunned. It was a complete shock to all of us.
“I felt like we had walked through the doors into this awful situation. The first time I had met [Child A], the first time I had met his parents.
“It was a huge shock.”
Mr Myers asked her how it felt to be accused of the murder of a child she claims she was trying to save.
She said: “It’s awful. That day I was not even supposed to be working that night. It was just a shock to walk into that situation … You never forget something like that.”
Ms Letby explained she had received a text from her manager asking her to work that morning, something she said happened “frequently”.
“I was very flexible. I lived locally. I had no commitments outside of work, so I was very happy to work where I could and adapt my shifts as needed,” she added.
The prosecution alleges that Ms Letby intravenously introduced air into the bloodstream of Child A. Ms Letby recalled that she assisted a colleague with giving fluids to Child A through an intravenous line. She denied harming the baby in any way.
Child A died within 90 minutes of Letby starting her shift, the court heard.
Just 28 hours after the death, Child B, the twin sister of Child A, collapsed.
The court heard her heart rate suddenly dropped and Ms Letby, along with other medics, went to help. Child B recovered and was eventually discharged a month later.
A nurse who treated her, who cannot be named, previously told the court she “looked very like her brother did the night before”.
‘You don’t forget about the babies you care for’
A few days after the incidents, Ms Letby asked a colleague if there were any spare shifts going on June 11.
The response was the unit was fine for staffing levels through the week, but may get busier at the weekend.
Ms Letby responded: “Think I need to throw myself back in on Sat x.”
When asked by Mr Myers why she answered in that way, Ms Letby replied: “I wanted to get back into the unit and back into looking after babies.”
She said she had been taught that “when you have difficult shifts or when babies pass away, the way to overcome that is to go back into the environment and carry on”.
Speaking about the death of another baby, known only as Child C, on June 14, Ms Letby admitted she had searched for the infant’s parents on Facebook.
She said: “When you go home from work you don’t forget about the babies you care for and what’s happened.”
Asked about what the parents had gone through, she said: “It’s unimaginable”
Ms Letby, originally from Hereford, denies all the allegations against her.